Rated PG-13 for intense disaster sequences and some language.

There is this loony theory that since the Mayan calendar does not go beyond 2012, the world will end. Some people actually believe it. Naturally the Internet is loaded with the

ramblings of fools about it.

Naturally, this is top grade fodder for a disaster film. Imagine: the end of the world depicted on film. Well, almost the end of the world. Unfortunately, “almost the end of the world” has been done plenty of times; on the big screen and the little one as well. And done, and done, and done.

So, what is new? Well, probably the special effects are somewhat new. They are juiced up, thanks to CGI or digital technology, but the plot is an old Frankenstein: bits and pieces of disaster/end-of-the world films patched together. I recognized “Poseidon Adventure,” “Waterworld,” and quite a few of those made-for-TV movies that should be totally forgotten. And there is a tad of “Noah’s Ark” too — the one with Jon Voight and Mary Steenburgen; but I never saw that one — and don’t plan to either.

The story is about a divorced man named Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), who is totally unsuccessful, both as an author and a father. He is a limo driver. He was supposed to go camping with his two kids. His car breaks down and so he has to take the limo to Yellowstone Park. Funny, yes? There, he discovers a giant lake drained by some mysterious phenomenon. Not so funny, yes?

At the park, he meets a crazy man (Woody Harrelson) who tells Curtis all about the Mayan theory and all kinds of details about the pending end of the world and the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories; a conspiracy that involve the heads of state of many, but not all, nations. At this point, dear readers, you should detect a hint. A hint of what comes at the end of the film: a much bigger disaster than the end of the world.

Frankly, the dialog is painful, especially when things get very dramatic. The science is so profoundly absurd that the “suspension of disbelief,” so necessary in fiction, would require, in the viewer, mental defect and a bushel of

mind-alternating drugs.

Then the plot gets so off base that I am surprised that the stars didn’t request the use of assumed names…or insisted that their faces be blurred out like naked people on TV. On the other hand, it is a very cheesy carnival ride that isn’t without some thrills and chills, but, sadly, the negative outweighs the positive. It is overlong and the end is so ridiculous that it is laughable. Did I mention that?

The acting is, um, frothy. Danny Glover plays the president but his character and dialog is so two-dimensional that you can’t help but wonder why the producers didn’t save the money and use a puppet. And Oliver Platt plays an evil guy who works in the White House and is so unoriginal that I wondered if the character was created by a 13-year-old semi-literate nerd (if there is such a thing) who stays in his room, plays computer games, and draws some very disturbing pictures with a black crayon. I like all these actors, so my heart bleeds for them; but not as much as it bleeds for me for enduring the film.

“2012” will make tens of millions of dollars because it has lots of explosions, fireballs and car crashes. It also is kind of fun to watch all the landmarks get destroyed — St. Peter’s Basilica falling over is worth a buck. However, I need not write that reality has made such a scene a little disconcerting. In fact, watching how the White House gets smashed up makes me think that there is a secret political sub-text…but that would mean there exists some sort of conspiracy.

Funny, the Mayans never mentioned it.

“2012” earns two bow ties out of five.

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